One of the big questions for furnace owners is when to stop calling for repairs for a home heating system and instead invest money in replacing it. We won’t pretend there’s an easy answer to this question—we certainly can’t make a broad generalization for all furnaces.
However, we can help shed some light on the question. When you need to make a solid decision about furnace replacement or furnace repair for your home, make an appointment with one of our skilled HVAC professionals. They’ll help you weigh the factors so you can make the choice that’s right for your needs.
Repairs can keep a furnace going for years—which isn’t always ideal
When a furnace malfunctions, suffering a drop in heating power or shutting off entirely, repairs can usually restore it. The question is not whether repairs can keep a furnace going, but if they should.
If you have a furnace in service for 10 years or less, repairs are usually the best course when there’s a malfunction. You can use a simple calculation to give you a sense of when a repair is worth it: multiply the cost of the repair by the age of the furnace, and if the result is less than 5,000, the repair isn’t too expensive. For example, if you have a furnace that’s 7 years old, and it needs some fixes to its burners that costs $400, the repair is probably worth it. (7 x 400 = 2,800.)
Be cautious of cumulative repair costs, however. If your furnace needs more than one repair a year, you shouldn’t be paying more than $500 total. This indicates a furnace that’s wearing down too fast and is already costing more than it should. If any single repair is more than half the cost of putting in a new furnace, that’s far too much to be paying to keep the furnace running.
The benefits of a furnace replacement
We understand you may feel hesitant about investing in a new furnace. It’s costlier than a single repair, and it’s tempting to try to get a few more years of use from an older furnace even if it’s wheezing along. But once you have a furnace that’s more than 15 years old, the benefits of a replacement outweigh the upfront cost.
First, there’s safety. An aging furnace is more likely to develop hazardous problems, such as a cracked heat exchanger due to corrosion. Newer furnaces have improved safety precautions, and of course have the advantage of being new.
Second, the improved energy efficiency of newer models of furnaces means installing one will quickly pay you back. Modern equipment saves enough money to return their cost within 6 to 10 years.
Finally, a new furnace will rarely need to have repairs done. As long as you keep up with maintenance, you can anticipate many years with no repairs at all. If you’re already shelling out annually to fix your current furnace, you can put a stop to those extra fees right away with a replacement.